Jersey City, New Jersey, USA massacre, anti-Semitism?


This 10 December 2019 CBS TV video from the USA says about itself:

The mayor of Jersey City in New Jersey says a shootout that killed a police detective and three other [Jewish] people was likely the result of a “targeted” attack on a kosher grocery store. Bystanders recorded the standoff that lasted several hours in a busy neighborhood, which includes a synagogue and a school. The two suspected gunmen were also killed. Don Dahler reports.

By David Israel in the USA, 11 December 2019:

3 Chassidic Jews Dead in Deliberate Anti-Semitic Attack on Jersey City Kosher Market

Leah Minda Ferencz, who owned the Kosher supermarket on Martin Luther King Drive in Jersey City, as well as a customer, Moshe Deutsch, 24, and another Jewish customer, age 48, were gunned down on Tuesday afternoon. Earlier, Detective Joseph Seals, 39, married and father of five, was shot and later declared dead. The killers, a man and a woman, were finally shot dead in a gun exchange police said involved at least 100 bullets. …

The two suspects drove their U-Haul truck to the Jersey City Kosher Supermarket on Martin Luther King Drive, where, around 12:30 PM, they shot a Chassidic man on the sidewalk and ran into the store, where they shot and killed the other two victims.

According to police, the two killers had long guns and a large supply of ammunition, as well as bomb-making materials in the truck. …

So far it has not been established with certainty that the shooters indeed carried out an anti-Semitic plan, but the fact is that community leaders and politicians already understand that this is part of a new, growing trend.

See also here.

This 9 December 2019 video from the USA is called Trump Screams AWFUL Anti-Semitic Tropes.

US Representative Eric Swalwell: We must hold Trump accountable for embracing anti-Semitism: here.

JERSEY CITY MAYOR WANTS OUSTER OF OFFICIAL WHO DEFENDED STORE ASSAULT Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop is calling on a school official who referred to Jewish people as “brutes” in an angry Facebook post to resign. Jersey City Board of Education trustee Joan Terrell-Paige’s Facebook comment appeared to justify last week’s deadly assault on a Jewish market carried out by two shooters in the New Jersey town. [HuffPost]

ANTI-SEMITIC PASTOR SPEAKS AT TRUMP’S HANUKKAH PARTY  President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at tackling anti-Semitism Wednesday ― but a speaker at the event has said Jews are going to hell. Evangelical leader Robert Jeffress, who Trump called a “tremendous faith leader,” has claimed “you can’t be saved being a Jew.” [HuffPost]

United States exorcist pastor’s sexual abuse


Not only in the Roman Catholic church there is a problem of exorcism as a pretext for sexual abuse. And not only among some fundamentalist Protestants in the Netherlands. Also, among some Protestants in the USA, as this 25 July 2019 video says:

Pastor Told Abuse Victims He Needed To ‘Suck’ Demons Out Of Them

“Multiple victims have come forward to accuse a New Jersey pastor of sexually assaulting them as part of exorcism rituals.

“Three men have come forward claiming Rev. Dr. William Weaver performed sex acts on them when they came to him for private counseling at Linden Presbyterian Church”, Newsweek reported Thursday. “Weaver, 69, would allegedly tell the men that he needed to ‘suck’ out demons through their semen, citing Native American rituals and a verse from Ephesians telling Christians to ‘put on the full armor of God.’”

Read more here.

Electricity corporation kills 68-year-old woman for money


Linda Daniels with two of her granddaughters

By Mark Ferretti in the USA:

Woman dies after New Jersey utility cuts off her electricity

16 July 2018

Linda Daniels, a 68-year-old woman who needed an oxygen tank to breathe, died at her home in Newark, New Jersey, after the Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G) Company

A private for-profit corporation; not a real ‘public service’.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have identified PSEG as the 48th-largest corporate producer of air pollution in the United States, with roughly five million pounds of toxic chemicals released annually into the air. Major pollutants indicated by the study include manganese, chromium and nickel salts; sulfuric and hydrochloric acid: here.

turned off her electricity. The company claimed that Daniels owed $1,500—an alleged debt that it saw as sufficient reason to deprive her [from] power for her oxygen machine. In New Jersey, it is illegal for utility companies to turn off power to customers with medical emergencies.

Daniels is survived by her two children, five grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

The criminality of the electric company has provoked outrage among family members and throughout the South Ward of Newark, where Daniels lived. The struggle to keep the power on is acutely felt in Newark, where over 28 percent of the population lives in poverty and the typical family income is just 40 percent the state average.

The power went off at Daniels’s home at about 10 a.m. on Thursday, July 5. As the temperature outside rose to 91 degrees, the home became warmer. Desiree Washington, Daniels’s daughter, arrived at her mother’s house after the power was cut and found the heat difficult to bear. “I’m ex-military, but I couldn’t even take a breath”, she told the New York Times. Daniels was frightened and gasping for air. To keep her mother cool, Washington applied ice packs to her sides and fanned her.

Many members of the family called PSE&G shortly after the power was cut off and continued to call throughout the day, begging for the power to be restored. They told the company that Daniels had congestive heart failure and needed oxygen. PSE&G said that they would send a truck, but none came. “They started getting nasty after awhile”, Daniels’s granddaughter Mia told nj.com. The company ultimately told the family to stop calling.

Unable to use her oxygen tank, Daniels switched to a smaller tank that she kept in reserve. When that tank became empty, the family called the paramedics, who brought a portable oxygen tank. Despite this assistance, Daniels continued to gasp for air. “She was scared, and she was holding our hands tightly,” said Washington. “She was horrified. We were all horrified.”

After hours of desperate struggle, Daniels died at 4:23 p.m. “She suffered and she passed right in front of us. She was gasping until the time she died”, said Mia.

As if to mock the grieving family, the promised utility truck finally arrived on Friday morning. Power was restored to the deceased’s home at 8:30 a.m.

In a statement, PSE&G said it had turned off Daniels’s power because she had not made payments for months. “As part of our policy, PSE&G had notified this customer numerous times that their account was in arrears and that they would be scheduled for a service termination unless the account was made current”, Jim Namiotka, a company spokesman, told nj.com. The utility company made “at least 26 attempts to notify the customer since January 2018, including two visits to the residence, prior to the disconnection”, it said in the statement.

But the family had made a $500 payment on Monday, July 3—two days before PSE&G turned off the electricity. They also had made payments of more than $250 each in April, May, and June. “We haven’t stopped paying”, said Washington. “Everybody was praying for her not to suffer, but how can you not suffer under those circumstances? How could you not suffer? It’s just unbelievable.”

Namiotka also claimed that the family had not told PSE&G about Daniels’s medical problems until after the power had been cut off.

Then, how about corporate spokesman Namiotka’s claim that they had visited Ms Daniels at her home twice? So, they saw Ms Daniels condition themselves, not needing to be notified by the family? Either the ‘two visits’ are a lie. Or the supposed non-notification by the family is a lie. Or maybe they both are.

The family flatly denies this account, saying that they had informed the company in writing about Daniels’s medical problems. In 2016, the family wrote to PSE&G to notify the company that Daniels had begun using a machine to treat sleep apnea. Furthermore, Daniels was receiving hospice care, and her nurses also updated PSE&G about her condition. In April, the nurses informed the company that Daniels was now using an oxygen tank.

PSE&G has promised to conduct a “complete investigation of this matter”. The state’s Board of Public Utilities is investigating Daniels’s death as well.

The criminal electricity shutoff in Newark comes amid an aggressive wave of utility shutoffs around the country. California, Texas and New York have all experienced record levels of shutoffs in recent years. The victims of shutoffs are members of the working class and the consequences are predictably tragic.

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department has been shutting off workers’ water for years to pressure them into making payments or leaving the city so that developers can gentrify areas. These scandalous shutoffs put the health of residents, particularly the young, elderly, and sick, at risk.

In 2015, Delmarva Power cut off the electricity for utility worker Rodney Todd, a financially struggling father of seven in Maryland, most likely because of unpaid bills. Todd set up a gas-powered generator to keep the lights on. He and his children were later found dead, apparently of carbon monoxide poisoning.

These tragedies make plain the fact that utility companies, public and private, are unconcerned with human dignity or even human life. Under capitalism, a company’s sole and relentless focus necessarily must be on maximizing profits and minimizing expenses. Every other consideration is a nonissue.

Not only is capitalism unable to provide for those in need, it is driven to extract profit even from the most vulnerable. That Daniels, Todd, and others paid with their lives is immaterial to the utility companies. It does not merit even a line item on their balance sheets.

This video from the USA says about itself:

Daughter remembers her mother, who was on oxygen and died after her power was cut

9 July 2018

Desiree Washington of Newark, lost her mother on July 5, hours after PSEG cut off her mother’s electricity because of money owed on the account. Her 68-yr-old mother was connected to an oxygen tank and needed it to survive.

Female cerulean warbler video


This video from the USA says about itself:

27 January 2016

A female Cerulean Warbler foraging in a New Jersey treetop. These birds live in deciduous forests and nest and forage higher in the canopy than most other warblers.

Video recorded by Benjamin Clock/Macaulay Library.

United States authorities demand Cuba extradites political refugee Assata Shakur


This video from the USA says about itself:

Assata Shakur in Her Own Words: Rare Recording of Activist Named to FBI Most Wanted Terrorist List

3 May 2013

The FBI has added the former Black Panther Assata Shakur to its Most Wanted Terrorist List 40 years after the killing for which she was convicted. Born Joanne Chesimard, Shakur was found guilty of shooting dead a New Jersey state trooper during a gunfight in 1973. Shakur has long proclaimed her innocence and accused federal authorities of political persecution.

She escaped from prison in 1979 and received political asylum in Cuba. On Thursday, she became the first woman added to the FBI’s terrorist list and the reward for her capture was doubled to $2 million. We begin our coverage by airing Shakur’s reading of an open letter she wrote to Pope John Paul II during his trip to Cuba in 1998 after the FBI asked him to urge her extradition. “As a result of being targeted by [the FBI program] COINTELPRO, I was faced with the threat of prison, underground, exile or death,” Shakur said at the time. “I am not the first, nor the last, person to be victimized by the New Jersey system of ‘justice.’ The New Jersey State Police are infamous for their racism and brutality.”

Transcript of this video is here.

This video from the USA says about itself:

Angela Davis and Assata Shakur’s Lawyer Denounce FBI’s Adding of Exiled Activist to Terrorist List

3 May 2013

One day after the exiled former Black Panther Assata Shakur became the first woman named to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List, we’re joined by another legendary African-American activist, Angela Davis, as well as Shakur’s longtime attorney, Lennox Hinds.

Davis, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is the subject of the recent film, “Free Angela & All Political Prisoners.” She argues that the FBI’s latest move, much like its initial targeting of Shakur and other Black Panthers four decades ago, is politically motivated. “It seems to me that this act incorporates or reflects the very logic of terrorism,” Davis says. “I can’t help but think that it’s designed to frighten people who are involved in struggles today. Forty years ago seems like it was a long time ago. In the beginning of the 21st century, we’re still fighting around the very same issues — police violence, health care, education, people in prison.”

A professor of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University, Hinds has represented Shakur since 1973. “This is a political act pushed by the state of New Jersey, by some members of Congress from Miami, and with the intent of putting pressure on the Cuban government and to inflame public opinion,” Hinds says. “There is no way to appeal someone being put on the terrorist list.”

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Call for refugee’s extraditon threatens flights to Havana

Saturday 24th October 2015

AUTHORITIES in New Jersey are opposing airline flights to Cuba until a high-profile US refugee has been extradited.

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey chairman John Degnan urged United Airlines on Thursday to postpone the launch of services from Newark airport to Cuba.

Mr Degnan’s intervention came the day after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican presidential hopeful, wrote to him asking for support.

The two want former Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army member Assata Shakur extradited from Cuba to the US.

Ms Shakur, who describes herself as “20th-century escaped slave,” was jailed in 1977 for the murder of New Jersey state trooper Werner Foerster in a 1973 shoot-out.

This was despite defence testimony that she had been shot twice with her arms raised and had her right arm paralysed.

Ms Shakur escaped from prison in 1979 and fled to Cuba in 1984, where she was granted political asylum.

#BlackLivesMatter and street art in Baltimore, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

29 April. 2015

SHOCKING VIDEO: Joseph Kent, a 21-year-old Morgan State student and civil rights activist, was telling demonstrators to disperse Tuesday night after the 10 p.m. curfew as a line of police officers stood by in riot gear.

Baltimore protester’s creepy arrest on live TV prompts concerns of ‘blackbag kidnapping’. CNN was broadcasting live when a National Guard armored car drove directly toward Kent and some of the officers pushed him behind the Humvee, which drove off.

Protester with his hands up arrested by police in Baltimore

The camera followed the armored vehicle, leaving many to conclude Kent had been shoved inside.

Shocking Video broadcast live by CNN shows a prominent Baltimore activist being kidnapped off the street by five National Guard troops as an armored vehicle shields the scene from cameras.

“They ran out and grabbed him … and then arrested him,” reported CNN’s Chris Cuomo.

Kent gained attention during protests in Baltimore over the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

The music student was credited in some reports as helping to keep protests peaceful and organized.

Baltimore police could not be reached for comment on Kent’s arrest.

A local attorney said Kent had apparently been booked into jail but was not among those who will be presented for bail on Wednesday.

By Priscilla Frank in the USA, with photos there:

Baltimore Students Team Up For #BlackLivesMatter Street Art Takeover

06/25/2015 11:59 am EDT

In 2011, street artist JR made a call to art and a call to action — a call he hoped would reach people around the world. “I wish for you to stand up for what you care about by participating in a global art project,” he said. “And together, we’ll turn the world inside out.”

“Inside Out” is the name of the project, which challenges people around the globe to share their portrait and a message they believe in. Thus far, the project has attracted over 200,000 people from 112 countries, from Ecuador to Nepal to Palestine. Issues addressed range from climate change to gender-based violence, all communicated through the simple yet striking image of a large, black-and-white pasted portrait.

Now, the students of Morgan State University’s Visual Arts Department are taking a hint from JR and collaborating, along with Computer Graphics II and Computers in Art Design professor Chris Metzger, on an “Inside Out” Group Action project, a visual response to the #BlackLivesMatter Movement.

For me, Black Lives Matter — way before it became this social media movement, before it became a hashtag — it’s always been a part of my work,” artist Sheldon Scott explained in a previous interview with The Huffington Post. “We’ve been saying these things for years about … mistreatment and injustices.”

From June 17 to June 19, students teamed up to take on the facade of the future home of Open Works in Baltimore City, a space meant to serve as an incubator for Baltimore‘s creative economy.

“Research shows that Baltimore City ranks 100th out of 100 cities nationally in terms of income mobility,” program manager Will Holman explained in a statement. “We view Open Works as a ladder for youth, unemployed, and underemployed workers looking for better opportunities.” The facility will offer advanced tools and technologies for ordinary citizens, transforming Baltimore into a grounds for burgeoning tech and art scenes.

“These facilities, such as TechShop, FabLab and other homegrown maker spaces, are emerging as a new kind of civic institution, similar to schools or libraries,” BARCO Managing Director, Mac MacLure added. “Maker communities are springing up around the world as places that inspire and teach, provide access to tools and mentorship, and connect individuals with financing and customers.”

Given its potential for the creative and economic future of Baltimore, Open Works is an ideal canvas for the young faces of Baltimore’s artists and activists. The project comes at as an apt a time as ever, following the horrific events of last week’s shooting in Charleston, in which 21-year-old white gunman Dylann Roof murdered nine individuals at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church during a Bible study meeting.

The only reason someone could walk into a church and shoot people praying is out of hate,” Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said at a news conference following the massacre. “It is the most dastardly act that one could possibly imagine.”

In the wake of such tragedy, projects like “Inside Out” restore some sense of hope. The strong faces of the men and women of Baltimore’s “Inside Out” installation emanate a sense of strength, togetherness and peaceful defiance.

Bobolink bird news from New Jersey, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

This video celebrates the amazing song of the Bobolink, described by one author as “a mad, wreckless song fantasia—an outbreak of pentup irrepressible glee,” and by another as “a bubbling delirium of ecstatic music that flows from the gifted throat of the bird like sparkling champagne.”

The Bobolink is a member of the Blackbird family. It frequents grassy meadows of the northern states and adjacent Canada. Also referred to as “skunk blackbird,” the male has striking black-and-white plumage, making identification easy. Females are a buffy yellow-brown.

© 2010 Lang Elliott & Bob McGuire

From The Meadowlands Nature Blog in the USA:

Bobolinks Thrive at Bergen County’s No-Mow Zone

“Since the 1900s, bobolink populations in the northeast have been declining- with a 75% decrease occurring in the past 40 years according to the Breeding Bird Survey. Bobolinks are a grassland bird and a ground nester. The loss of North American grasslands and modern farming practices, that call for the harvest of the hayfields during nesting season, have led to their waning numbers. But creating No-Mow zones, like those at Overpeck County Park, is one way that we in suburban New Jersey can help.”

This according to DonTorino, whose column Don’s Jersey Birding appears weekly in Wild New Jersey. Read the full article here.

Good red knot news from New Jersey


This video from the USA says about itself:

Staff writer Abigail Tucker recounts the scene of a beach littered with horseshoe crabs and a sky filled with red knots. Read more here.

From the Conserve Wildlife Blog in New Jersey, USA:

19,077 Red Knots Counted – The Most Seen in New Jersey in a Decade

May 25th, 2015

An Update on the 2015 Delaware Bay Shorebird Project

By: Dr. Larry Niles, LJ Niles Associates LLC

Despite the threatening forecast of a cold drizzle and strong winds, our team persevered to complete the first bay-wide count of this season. On the New Jersey side of Delaware Bay, we counted 19,077 red knots – the most seen in the state in a decade. With Delaware’s shorebird team recording 2,000 knots along their entire shoreline, the total knot count of 21,077 is not far from the 24,000 seasonal maximum of the last three years.

This is good news in either of two completely different ways. One explanation is that perhaps most of the knots have already come to the bay. If so, they are in good time to make weight and are getting close to an on-time departure for the Arctic. The alternative is that even more will arrive and we will exceed our counts of the recent past. Good weights promise good Arctic production; more knots offer new hope.

The numbers of ruddy turnstones (12,295) and semipalmated sandpipers (56,788) are also close to the seasonal maxima counts of the recent past, so they too may soon brave the long flight to their Arctic homes. Our cannon-net catches of turnstones, sanderlings and knots point to weights building quickly.

But the real shorebird wonderland of the bay continues to be Egg Island. Few people see this this vast intertidal marsh, and fewer still appreciate its wonder. Egg Island – actually a peninsula – juts miles out into the bay, nearly to the shipping channel. The marsh cradles one of the most diverse bird faunas of the mid-Atlantic. All along its mucky eastern flank, short-billed dowitchers, dunlin, semipalmated sandpipers, black-bellied plovers, and semipalmated plovers comb the eroded banks for crab eggs drifting in the water column from better crab breeding sites. The crabs themselves attempt to breed in the overhanging edges of the spartina marsh, a lost cause; however, because the muck lacks oxygen and the eggs cannot develop. This is bad for crabs but good for shorebirds because most of the eggs end up on the sod banks, easy prey for shorebirds.

But this week, the wonders of Egg Island overwhelmed us. Our team – Humphrey Sitters, Phillipa Sitters and this blog’s author – wove along the shallow shoreline in our intrepid 17-ft Carolina skiff, counting thousands of shorebirds – 8,226 knots, 4,125 ruddy turnstones, 3,000 sanderlings, and 21,000 semipalmated sandpipers. The flocks swirled around the peninsula’s sandy western shore, alighting, then flying, and then alighting again. It was a shorebird dance that was a wonderful sight for increasingly tired-out shorebird scientists.

Homophobic quackery defeat in New Jersey, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

Chaim Levin Tells the Truth About JONAH in Atlanta

17 February 2012

The “ex-gay” organization Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality (JONAH) has victimized many people and helps no one. It is run by convicted felon Arthur Abba Goldberg who went to prison because he was involved in illegal bond schemes when he worked on Wall Street.

While at JONAH, Chaim Levin claims that his so-called “therapist” Alan Downing made him get undressed and touch himself. This is what passes for “therapy” at JONAH and many other so-called “ex-gay” organizations.

Despite the horrifying results, many well-meaning, but deceived and misguided Orthodox rabbis continue to refer people to JONAH. For the sake of morality and justice this must change.

In this video clip, Chaim Levin speaks in Atlanta. Truth Wins Out brought Levin here to help counter Exodus International‘s “ex-gay” road show Love Won Out.

The founder of Love Won Out, John Paulk was photographed by TWO’s Wayne Besen in a gay bar in Sept. 2000.

After a defeat for homophobic quackery in China … now one in New Jersey, USA.

From Slate.com in the USA:

Unconscionable Practice

This court ruling could mean the end of gay conversion therapy.

By Mark Joseph Stern

Chaim Levin prayed to God to cure his homosexuality—and Alan Downing promised to answer his prayers. Levin, an 18-year-old orthodox Jew and a victim of childhood sexual abuse, believed his attraction to men was a disorder; Downing, a gay conversion “therapist,” said he could heal him. At one therapy session, for which Levin’s parents paid $100, Downing told Levin to remove a piece of clothing, say something bad about himself, then repeat the process. Levin complied until he was naked. Downing instructed Levin to touch his penis, then his buttocks, while Downing watched. This, Downing said, would help Levin become straight.

Today, Levin is one of four gay men suing Downing and his colleagues for subjecting them to humiliating and discredited treatments. Their lawsuit posits that Downing and his fellow counselors violated a New Jersey consumer protection statute by claiming, falsely, that their services would actually work. That is, Levin and his fellow victims are suing them for being quacks. Downing assured Levin he could cure his homosexuality. Now Levin is suing to prove that assurance was a lie. And if he wins, gay conversion therapists around the country could find their jobs at risk.

The legal theory behind Levin’s lawsuit is surprisingly simple. New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act bars any organization from advertising a good or service that doesn’t work by pretending that it does. Downing and his organization, Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, offer gay conversion therapy—a service that, licensed psychologists almost unanimously agree, does not work at all. Yet JONAH’s counselors routinely insisted that, through bizarre and often sexually charged activities, they could stifle same-sex desire and ignite opposite-sex attraction. Levin and his co-plaintiffs, who are represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, gave JONAH a good chunk of money to receive these worthless services, then paid even more money for real therapists to help them process the trauma they underwent at JONAH. Under New Jersey law, they’re suing to get that money back—with damages.

The SPLC assumed that much of the court battle would revolve around the question of whether homosexuality can, in accordance with current scientific knowledge, be deemed a disorder. JONAH’s entire practice revolves around this presumption, as well as the idea that, as a disorder, homosexuality can be “cured.” If the judge allowed JONAH to argue that part of the scientific community views same-sex attraction as a fixable flaw, the jury might hesitate to find that the promise of a gay cure constituted false advertising.

If, on the other hand, JONAH were forbidden from putting forth ostensible scientific evidence that homosexuality is a disorder, the SPLC’s case would become nearly airtight. If homosexuality is not a disorder, and gay desires can’t be “cured,” then JONAH was, objectively, lying to its clients—in clear violation of New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act.

New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act also forbids any for-profit practice that shocks the conscience.

This debate could have dogged the SPLC throughout the trial. But earlier this month, Superior Court Judge Peter F. Bariso threw JONAH’s pseudoscience out the window. JONAH had moved to put six defense experts on the stand who would testify that homosexuality is a disorder. The SPLC moved to block all six experts, noting that in New Jersey, expert testimony related to a scientific technique is allowed only where that technique has “general acceptance” in its particular field. Since the vast majority of scientists, doctors, psychologists, and psychiatrists believe homosexuality is not a disorder and gay conversion therapy is futile, the SPLC argued, all of JONAH’s expert testimony should be excluded.

In an emphatic order, Bariso agreed. “The theory that homosexuality is a disorder,” Bariso wrote, “is not novel but—like the notion that the earth is flat and the sun revolves around it—instead is outdated and refuted.” Bariso barred five of JONAH’s experts from testifying at all, since their opinions would be based in the “obsolete and discredited scientific theor[y]” that homosexuality is a curable affliction. (The sixth expert will be permitted to testify about an unrelated matter.) As a result of this blunt ruling, JONAH has no experts to speak to the validity of its allegedly therapeutic practices. The backbone of its legal defense has been effectively shattered.

But it gets worse for JONAH. In addition to barring false and fraudulent advertising, New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act also forbids unconscionable commercial conduct—in other words, any for-profit practice that shocks the conscience. State courts have ruled that this standard must be interpreted liberally to protect the public from dishonest or harmful business practices.

Here, the SPLC would seem to have a slam-dunk case. JONAH conducted group therapy sessions in which young gay men were blindfolded while counselors dribbled basketballs and shouted anti-gay slurs. In other group sessions, clients were made to undress and stand in a circle together, while their counselor—who was also naked—looked on. Other times, counselors and their clients partook in “group cuddling sessions.”

Those therapies were mild compared with some of the other sessions. In one group activity, clients held hands to create a human chain while one person stood behind the chain holding two oranges, meant to represent testicles. Clients then took turns standing on the other side of the chain while the rest of the group shouted anti-gay slurs at them. The goal was to goad clients into pushing through the chain and grabbing the oranges. At one particularly atrocious session, a counselor instructed Levin to select someone from the group to role-play his past abuser. The selected participant was made to yell abusive statements that Levin’s abuser had made, such as “I won’t love you anymore if you don’t give me blowjobs.”

Individual sessions were just as disturbing. Downing appears to have asked most of his clients to undress while he watched. He also instructed at least one client to beat an effigy of his mother with a tennis racket while screaming, as if murdering her. Another JONAH counselor told a client to wear a rubber band around his wrist and snap it every time he felt attraction to a man. And JONAH counselors frequently told their clients to go to bathhouses with their fathers in order to be naked in their presence.

It goes without saying that none of these practices are scientifically proven to change one’s sexual orientation. They are, in fact, entirely made up. Further, JONAH’s humiliating, degrading therapies seem designed to force young gay men to disrobe in front of their counselors—and to touch themselves and their counselors sexually.

But Levin and his co-plaintiffs aren’t suing JONAH on any counts of sexual abuse. Instead, they’re focusing solely on JONAH’s false advertising and unconscionable business practices, for an exceedingly clever reason. Every state, as well as the federal government, has some provision that forbids fraudulent, false, and misleading advertising. Not all of these laws are as sweeping as New Jersey’s, but many may be broad enough to prohibit the sale of therapies that are scientifically proven not to work—for instance, gay conversion therapy. Should the SPLC’s New Jersey lawsuit succeed, gay conversion therapists across the country may need to lawyer up.

Of course, these kinds of lawsuits won’t, and can’t, outlaw ex-gay therapy everywhere: Consumer fraud statutes only apply to services sold to the public, so religious groups can still pressure people into such treatments for free without running afoul of the law. (These groups could probably claim a First Amendment right to “convert” gay people, anyway.) But as the legislative push to outlaw gay conversion therapy stalls in the states, the SPLC’s suit presents a glimmer of hope for those who wish to drive this debunked pseudoscience into extinction. It’s too late to save Chaim Levin from Alan Downing’s abuse. But there’s still time to protect the next generation of gay people from the exploitative mistreatment that gay conversion therapists are alarmingly eager to inflict.

A meeting was organised by three right-wing British Christian groups to campaign for gay conversion therapy: here.

Michael Brown killed, ‘no federal prosecution’


This video from New Jersey in the USA says about itself:

Jerame Reid Shooting – Police SHOOT MAN WITH HANDS UP

21 January 2015

JERAME REID SHOOTING Dash cam footage released by the Bridgeton Police Department Tuesday shows Jerame Reid being shot and killed as he exited a car pulled over by Bridgeton police officers, an incident that has sparked some Ferguson-esque backlash against the police departme[nt].

Video shows black man shot dead by officer as he steps out of car with hands raised: here. See also here.

By Andre Damon in the USA:

Report: No federal charges against Ferguson, Missouri cop who killed Michael Brown

22 January 2015

The US Justice Department will not bring federal civil rights charges against Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, Missouri police officer responsible for the murder of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in August, the New York Times reported Wednesday evening.

The Times reported, “The investigation by the FBI, which is complete, found no evidence to support civil rights charges against the officer,” based on the claims of unnamed officials.

The Times added, “The Justice Department plans to release a report explaining its decision,” probably “in the next month or two.” The decision, according to the report, would “close the politically charged case.”

The report in the Times, a semi-official outlet of the American state, all but constitutes an official statement by the White House that it is not pursuing charges against Wilson. …

Throughout the grand jury proceedings that concluded in November, St. Louis County prosecuting attorney Robert P. McCulloch worked to ensure that no charges would be filed, painting Brown as the aggressor and coddling Wilson, who was invited to testify for four hours before other witnesses were heard. Last month, McCulloch publicly admitted that he knowingly used perjured testimony in the grand jury proceedings, after journalists identified one of the witnesses as a mentally disturbed racist with a history of providing false testimony.

“The fact that the original hearing was a fraud makes the dropping of federal charges against Wilson all the more egregious,” said John Burton, a police misconduct lawyer in Los Angeles County.

“The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from excessive force—such as being shot—during an arrest.” said Burton. “The civil rights division of the Justice Department theoretically exists to ensure that state and local authorities do not violate the civil rights of citizens. Michael Brown’s civil rights were clearly violated.”

Officers responsible for the 1992 beating of Rodney King, who were initially acquitted by a jury, were found guilty of violating King’s civil rights by using excessive force in his arrest. In that case, the prosecutors were not required to prove that racial motives played a role in the officers’ actions.

The New York Times piece is itself a journalistic travesty, treating the sham grand jury proceeding as entirely legitimate, and inferring from its verdict that Wilson’s killing of Brown was justified. It quotes the self-serving and unbelievable testimony of Wilson, but not that of any witnesses who contradicted his version of events. It qualifies the fact that witnesses said Brown had his hands up by saying that “some recanted their stories,” without noting the perjured character of the key witness who supported Wilson.

During the grand jury proceeding against Wilson, the Times played a filthy role in polluting public opinion by uncritically printing leaks from the secret grand jury proceeding that portrayed Wilson in a favorable light, including excerpts from Wilson’s own testimony.

Michael Brown’s family considers suing Darren Wilson in absence of charges. Lawyer says possibility is ‘always on the table’ after reports that officer who shot teenager won’t face federal civil rights charges: here.